Lens review: Canon 50mm 1:1.8 Serenar Japan LTM/LSM/m39

In this review, only the technical properties of the lens are investigated. Artistic abilities will be tested in the future, in a separate article.

After getting a new lens, I always take a few technical shots to understand its strengths and weaknesses – usually it helps me a lot to start using unknown lens with much less of doubt. One day I decided that my data might be interesting for someone else and this site has been made.

Canon5018LTM_exterrior__89

Canon Camera Museum link

Canon 1:1.8 f=5cm Japan LTM parameters:

Marketed Nov-51
Original Price 26,000 yen
Lens Construction (group) 4
Lens Construction (element) 6
No. of Diaphragm Blades 10
Minimum Aperture 16
Closest Focusing Distance (m) 1
Maximum Magnification (x)
Filter Diameter (mm) 40
Maximum Diameter x Length (mm) 48 x 36.8
Weight (g) 270

Additional information:

  • It has Planar -like optical design
  • This lens arrived directly from Japan
  • Serial number of the tested lens is 139538
  • Optical and mechanical condition of this copy is very nice. There is nothing which can affect the images

 

Lens exterior:

(Please, forgive me the dust on the lens, I never have the patience to clean objects for close-up photo sessions)

 


Lens code name – Bellows  ベローズ

Bellows is the leader of the Gargantia Fleet’s salvage team.

 


Resolution – close distance:

Test description: target is a 10×15 cm picture (printed, glossy photo paper), fixed on the wall by scotch. Distance is 1.8m. Camera Sony A7II (24mpx, full frame) was fixed on the tripod and managed remotely with computer display as a viewfinder. All groups of shots were repeated 9 times for every target position on all apertures from fully opened up to F16, ISO-100, WB – same for all shots. SteadyShot – OFF. Focus was manually corrected for each shot. After all needed shots have been taken for one target position – I moved the target to the next place.

test_scene_view300x200

Main idea – to exclude the field curvature affect on so close distance.

Of course, I can’t be absolutely accurate, but so many repeats of shots – 4 for corners, 2 for long side, 2 for short side are giving me insurance that test results are correct.

Finally, pictures were converted from ARW-files in Capture One with default settings (Some single files have a slight light correction, for better visual convenience in comparison), then cropped for 300×200 px elements, combined into diagrams and exported into JPEG-files.

Scene preview:

Canon5018LTM_scene_preview.jpg

Original target image (printed in horizontal orientation on 10cm X 15cm glossy photo paper)

Bellows_5.jpg

Test results (selected version, easy to compare – 4 positions):

Canon5018LTM_SHORT.jpg

Test results (full version – all 9 positions):

Canon5018LTM_FULL.jpg


Resolution – long distance:

Test description: Camera Sony A7II (24mpx, full frame) was fixed on the tripod and managed remotely with computer display as a viewfinder. Targets (buildings) were fixed by gravity power on the distances in more than 200 meters. All shots have been taken with apertures from fully opened up to F16. ISO-100. Shutter Speed – depends on light (camera A-mode), WB – fixed and the same for all shots. SteadyShot – OFF. Focus was manually corrected for each shot to exclude focus-shift affect.

Finally, pictures were converted from ARW-files in Capture One with default settings (Some single files have a slight light correction, for better visual convenience in comparison), cropped for 300×200 px elements, combined into diagrams and exported into JPEG-files.

Scene preview:

Canon5018LTM_longdist_Preview_46

Test results:

Canon5018LTM_LONGDIST


Vignetting:

(frames scaled – 300×200)

Canon5018LTM_Vignetting


Geometric distortion:

(frame scaled 1200×800)

Canon5018LTM_giometry_56


Coma aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

Canon5018LTM_coma_aberr_


Chromatic aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

Canon5018LTM_chrome_aberr_

One more image crop from picture made with F2.8 can help to understand the dynamic of chromatic aberrations changing:

Canon5018LTM_chromatic_F_2_8_42


Close distance bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on to minimal distance 1m, plants were fixed in 3m distance from camera in front of the window with bright light from outside.

(frame scaled 1200×800, bokeh covers the frame partially)

CanonSI5018_bokeh_close_3crops


Long distance bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on half distance on the scale (2m), houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

Canon5018LTM_bokeh_far


Light dots bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on to minimal distance 1m, diodes were  fixed in 3m distance at the dark background.

Note: a lot of similar tests with another 50mm lenses for same or close conditions are presented on the site, so you can compare easily. Please, read other articles.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

CanonSI5018_dots_close_4crops


Light dots long distance bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on to minimal distance 1m, lights were fixed in more than 200m.

Such scenes can’t be meet often, so this is demonstration of extreme conditions. In most cases of real life photography the blur level will be less.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

Canon5018LTMDots_far


Another resources with tests and reviews:


My overall conclusion about Canon 50mm 1:1.8 Serenar LTM:

AvatarPlankCanonLTM5018

Very small and very heavy lens with true planar -like rendition and good enough sharpness. By technical IQ it’s better than most of another rangefinder lenses from 1950-1960. Not the best may be, but really close to top. And it has another very good advantage – it isn’t overpriced on auctions for today. Grab it, and don’t care – all another competitors from this age are close to the be similar or at least not so better for worth of much bigger prices. Of course if we don’t speak about bokeh because it’s always very personal and depends on scenes, I believe that this Canon can be definitely called as ‘bokeh-machine’. Behavior is enough typical for this type lenses: just avoid wide opened aperture – F2 gives a noticeable better contrast in the center at least, and one more: it need to remember that this lens became very good only at F4 and have to be closed up to F8 for landscapes. Enough universal lens, and can be only one in a bag. Lens shade is required. So, it’s one another magic stick from Canon S lenses family for photographers who are want to add rangefinder rendition into photos.


 

This lens took part in the battles:

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